Ps.Chrysostom on the Ascension

I’ve been sent a translation by KP of Ps.Chrysostom In Ascensionem 5 (PG 52:801-802), with notes and permission to put it online.  I do so gladly!

IN ASCENSIONEM
Sermo 5
ΕΙΣ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΑΛΗΨΙΝ
Λόγος εʹ.
ON THE ASCENSION
Homily 5
Adest dominicæ Assumptionis dies : ac licet multi jam concionem habuerint, nostram tamen tenuitatem ad concionandum pater cohortatur. Verum nobis e re videbatur esse infacundiæ nostræ velum silentii obtendere, et ignorantiæ magnitudinem occultare : quia vero una cum patre et cum supernis facultatibus vos auditores nos cohortamini, et jubetis ea persequi quæ olim David de Assumptione dominica exclamavit: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, et elevamini, portæ æternales, et introibit Rex gloriæ; age et nos ea quæ ad hanc diem pertinent, cum modulis celebremus.  Ἐπέστη τῆς Δεσποτικῆς ἀναλήψεως ἡ ἡμέρα· καὶ προσοδοιπορησάντων πολλῶν ὃν καὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν βραχύτητα πρὸς λόγους ὁ πατὴρ προετρέψατο. Καὶ δίκαιον ἡμῖν κατεφαίνετο, κάλυμμα τῆς βραχυλογίας τὴν σιωπὴν ἐπιφέρεσθαι, καὶ κρύπτειν τῆς ἀπαιδευσίας τὸ μέγεθος· ἐπειδὴ δὲ μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῶν ἄνω δυνάμεων πρὸς λόγους τὸ πλῆθος προτρέπετε, καὶ λαλεῖν μετ’ αὐτῶν ἐγκελεύετε ἅπερ πάλαι καὶ Δαυῒδ περὶ τῆς ἀναλήψεως τῆς Δεσποτικῆς ἀνεβόησεν· Ἄρατε πύλας, οἱ ἄρχοντες, ὑμῶν, καὶ ἐπάρθητε, πύλαι αἰώνιοι, καὶ εἰσελεύσεται ὁ Βασιλεὺς τῆς δόξης· δεῦρο, σήμερον τὰ πρόσφορα τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ ἡμεῖς κελαδήσωμεν. The day of the Master’s ascension is upon us. Many have travelled here, and the Father has encouraged even him, who is ill-equipped to preach. Indeed, we were thinking it would be right to cover our ineloquence with a veil of silence, and hide the magnitude of our ignorance. But because you, along with the Father and the powers above, have been urging us to address you who have assembled here in such numbers, and with them, you request that we speak about that which David long ago exclaimed concerning the ascension of the Master—“Lift up your gates, O princes, and be lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in”—Come then, let us also celebrate the things pertaining to this day.
Hodie namque Dominus noster Christus ad paternum solium ascendit; hodie qui incarnatus est, cum Patre sedet, neque prius separatus ab illo, neque nunc primum cum illo sedere incipiens: semper enim in sinu Patris requiescit : solus Patrem comprehendens, et solus a Patre comprehensus : nam Ego, inquit,  in Patre, et Pater in me est : Verbum erat in Patre, et Verbum erat in terra. Neque descendens sinum paternum vacuum reliquit : neque in cælum ascendens, præsentia sua vacuam terram reliquit; sed et cum hominibus vesans, cum Patre sedebat, et cum Patre sedens ab hominibus non separabatur. Ecce enim, inquit, ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummation em sæculi. Hodi Dominus Christus ex hominibus in cælos assumitur ; non quemadmodum Enoch translatus, neque sicut Elias curru igneo in cælum vecius; sed assumitur, ut discipulis Spiritus sancti veirtutem mittat. Σήμερον γὰρ ὁ Δεσπότης ἡμῶν Χριστὸς πρὸς τὸν πατρῷον θρόνον ἀνέρχεται· σήμερον ὁ σωματωθεὶς τῷ Πατρὶ συγκαθέζεται, οὔτε πρότερον χωρισθεὶς, οὔτε νῦν ἐν πρώτοις αὐτῷ συγκαθήμενος· ἀεὶ γὰρ ἐν τοῖς κόλποις τοῦ Πατρὸς ἀναπαύεται· μόνος τὸν Πατέρα χωρῶν, καὶ ὑπὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς μόνος χωρούμενος· Ἐγὼ γὰρ, φησὶν, ἐν τῷ Πατρὶ, καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί· καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἐν τῷ Πατρὶ, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἐν τῇ γῇ. Οὔτε δὲ κατελθὼν ὡς οὐδὲν τὸν πατρῷον κόλπον ἐκένωσεν· οὔτε εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀνελθὼν, ἔρημον τὴν γῆν τῆς αὑτοῦ παρουσίας κατέλειπεν· ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις συναναστρεφόμενος, τῷ Πατρὶ συνεκάθητο, καὶ τῷ Πατρὶ συγκαθήμενος, ὑπάρχει τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἀχώριστος. Ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἐγὼ, φησὶ, μεθ’ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. Σήμερον ὁ Δεσπότης Χριστὸς ἐκ τῶν ἀνθρώπων εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀναφέρεται, οὐ κατὰ τὸν Ἐνὼχ μεθιστάμενος, οὐ κατὰ τὸν Ἠλίαν ἅρματι πυρὸς πρὸς οὐρανὸν ἀνερχόμενος· ἀλλ’ ἀναλαμβάνεται, ἵνα πέμψῃ τοῖς μαθηταῖς τὴν τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος δύναμιν. For today our Master Christ goes up to his father’s throne; today, he who was incarnated sits down with the Father; not that he was first separated from him, nor that he now sits with him for the first time, for he has always rested in the bosom of the Father, alone containing the Father, and alone contained by the Father. For “I”, he said, “am in the Father, and the Father in me”; and the Word is in the Father and the Word is on the earth. Not descending and leaving the Father’s bosom empty, nor ascending into heaven and leaving the earth empty of his presence; but both living together with men, and sitting together with the Father; and both sitting together with the Father, and not separated from men. For “be sure of this”, he says, “I am with you always, to the very the end of the age.” Today the Μaster Christ is taking himself away from men and into heaven; not being taken like Enoch, nor going up towards heaven in a fiery chariot like Elijah, but ascending <by his own power>, so that he may send the power of the Holy Spirit to his disciples.

Hujus Assumptionis gaudium cum David multis ante annis prospiceret, hæc præfatus est: Ascendit Deus in jubilo : qui Adamum ex puivere efformavit, qui Abelem justificavit, qui Enochum transtulit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Noe gubernavit, qui fidelem Abraham elegit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Isaac non immolatam hostiam accepit, qui Jacobum bendictionibus replevit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Jesephum errantem duxit, qui Jobi patientiam accepit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui gloria Moysem affecit, qui Aaroni summum sacerdotium dedit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Jesum Nave robravit, qui Samueli prophetiæ donum largitus est.  Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui Davidem fortituden, Salomonem sapientia donavit. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui prophetas inspiravit, et apostolis curationum donam largitus est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui in cælis sine matre, in terra sine patre est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, Patris ante sæcula proles matris germen non satum. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, vitæ largitor et mirabilium dispensator. Ascendit Deus in jubilo, qui mortem morte necavit, et genri hominum vitam largitus est. Ascendit Deus in jubilo : Dominus in voce tubæ.

Ipsi gloria in sæcula sæculorum. Amen

Ταύτης τῆς ἀναλήψεως τὴν χαρὰν πρὸ πολλῶν γενεῶν Δαυῒδ θεασάμενος, προανεφώνησε λέγων· Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἀδὰμ διαπλάσας ἐκ κόνεως, ὁ τὸν Ἄβελ δικαιώσας, καὶ τὸν Ἐνὼχ μεταθέμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Νῶε κυβερνήσας, καὶ πιστὸν τὸν Ἀβραὰμ ἐκλεξάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰσαὰκ ἄθυτον θυσίαν δεξάμενος, καὶ τὸν Ἰακὼβ πληρώσας εὐλογιῶν. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ ὁδηγήσας πλανώμενον, καὶ τὴν ὑπομονὴν τοῦ Ἰὼβ προσδεξάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ δοξάσας τὸν Μωϋσῆν, καὶ τὴν ἀρχιερωσύνην τῷ Ἀαρῶνι χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν Ναυῆ ἐνισχύσας, καὶ τὸν προφήτην τῷ Σαμουὴλ δωρησάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τὸν Δαυῒδ δυναμώσας, καὶ τὸν Σολομῶντα σοφίσας. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τοὺς προφήτας ἐμπνεύσας, καὶ τοῖς ἀποστόλοις τὰς τῶν ἰαμάτων δωρεὰς χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ ἄνω ἀμήτωρ, καὶ κάτω ἀπάτωρ. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, τὸ τοῦ Πατρὸς προαιώνιον γέννημα, καὶ τῆς Παρθένου μητρὸς τὸ ἀφύτευτον βλάστημα. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τῆς ζωῆς χορηγὸς, καὶ τῶν παραδόξων διανομεύς. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, ὁ τῷ θανάτῳ θανατώσας τὸν θάνατον, καὶ τῷ γένει τῶν ἀνθρώπων ζωὴν χαρισάμενος. Ἀνέβη ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ, Κύριος ἐν φωνῇ σάλπιγγος.

Αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

Having seen this joyous ascension many generations ago, David prophesied, saying: God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who fashioned Adam from dust, who justified Abel, and took Enoch. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who steered Noah, and elected Abraham faithful. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who accepted the sacrificeless sacrifice of Isaac, and blessed Jacob abundantly. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who lead Joseph to wander, and expected Job’s patient endurance. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who glorified Moses, and bestowed the high priesthood on Aaron. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who strengthened Jesus the son of Nun, and gave the gift of prophecy to Samuel. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who fortified David, and gave wisdom to Solomon. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who inspired the prophets, and gave gifts of healing to the apostles. God has gone up with a joyous shout, he who is without mother above, and without father below. God has gone up with a joyous shout, the eternal offspring of the Father, and the unfathered descendant of the Virgin mother. God has gone up with a joyous shout, the giver of life, and the distributor of wonders. God has gone up with a joyous shout; he who by dying put death to death, and freely gave life to mankind. “God has gone up with a joyous shout; the Lord, with the sound of a trumpet!”

To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Background Notes

The only extant homily on the ascension which is genuinely from John Chrysostom is In ascensionem domini nostri Jesu Christi [1].

About a dozen other homilies on the ascension have been preserved under his name. One of these, Sermo in Sanctam Assumptionem Servatoris Nostri,[2] has also been assigned to Eusebius of Alexandria.[3] Two others published by F.C. Baur are believed to be Nestorian.[4] Baur thinks one is from the hand of Nestorius himself. In amongst the remainder is a series of five anonymous short homilies on the ascension.[5]  The fifth homily, titled In Ascensionem 5 for convenience, is the shortest of that series.

Date, author, provenance

Unknown. The setting is obviously liturgical: the homily was written for, or delivered on ἡμέρα ἀνάληψις the day of the analepsis or taking up, that is, Ascension Day. As the Ascension Day feast was first mentioned in extant literature around the end of the fourth century (see Appendix), the sermon is unlikely to be earlier than than very late fourth century. Given the ‘Byzantine’ outlook it conveys (heavenly beings particpating in liturgy, use of ‘today’), it is likely to be much later.  The homily of course, may have been copied or compiled from another source, perhaps more than one, with the author adding their own remarks.

Manuscripts

I haven’t investigated.

Text and translations.

Given by both Savile and Montfaucon in their editions of Chrysostom’s works. Savile of course, did not provide any translations. Montfaucon provided a Latin translation for this particular sermon in Gaume’s edition. Migne prints Montfaucon’s Greek text and gives a Latin translation. [6] The sermon’s editor in Migne calls it “inepti Graeculi opus.”

Modern translations

Not investigated thoroughly but none found to date—it doesn’t seem to be in Bareille’s French edition of Chrysostom?

Studies

The fourth homily in this series gets an occasional mention. Davies mentions this fifth homily briefly in his 1958 Bampton Lectures but otherwise, this series and especially this homily are ignored because they provide “nothing new”.  A Byzantine would be proud to hear that.

[1] PG 50:441-52.
[2] PG 64:45-48
[3] PG 86:422
[4] F.C. Baur, Traditio IX, 1953:101–126. Cf. also H.F. Stander Acta Patristica et Byzantina 6, 1995:130-46; and 7, 1996: 105-116
[5] PG 52:791-802
[6] PG 52:801-802

6 Responses to “Ps.Chrysostom on the Ascension”


  1. Alin Suciu

    Brilliant! I am also preparing a translation of the Coptic version.

  2. Roger Pearse

    You hero! Alin, I am in awe of what you are doing on your blog. Hardly any scholar is doing what you are doing, and I imagine your efforts with Coptic are becoming known everywhere.

  3. KP

    Oh Alin are you? Happy for you or anyone to check my Greek. BTW I have done a little more research – I made a booboo, Montfaucon did give a Latin translation (at least in the

  4. KP

    Oops hit enter by accident…Montfaucon did give a Latin translation at least in Gaume’s edition. Wouldn’t mind if you corrected that Roger!

    Can’t check manuscripts (no access to the proper resourcrces and I have no skills on how to interpret them anyway)but I am sure Alin has got that all sussed out.

    Base Pinakes only gives two in the Greek.

    For other interested parties CPG: 4535; Repertorium Pseudochrysostomicum: 128 (not that I can access either)

    Alin I may change my mind on one detail in the translation where I could have interpreted a phrase one of two ways; I am now translating In Ascension 3 which makes the same reference but usese different wording which makes it a bit clearer. Would be interested to see what the Coptic says.

    ineptigraeculi@gmail.com

  5. Roger Pearse

    Fixed the Montfaucon statement! Thank you KP very much for this material.

  6. KP

    Thanks Roger. Sorry about my typos. I need a new lap top.



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